The Government and private companies respond to the COVID-19 crisis

Mar 20, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis changes on a daily basis. While Americans are now socially distancing, the government and private companies have been working to expedite the diagnosis and treatment of the virus. These actions follow the recommendations of many organizations, including Washington Policy Center. (here)

The federal government has lifted restrictions on telemedicine for Medicare patients. Previously, a doctor had to have an ongoing relationship to treat a patient via telemedicine. That regulation has now changed to allow seniors the use of telemedicine to access any physician regardless of prior visits. (here)

Regence Blue Shield in Seattle announced that reimbursement for doctors using telemedicine would be the same as payment for an in-person visit. (here) This will encourage more physicians to offer telemedicine, keeping patients at home rather than traveling to crowded clinics and emergency rooms. 

Washington state just had a Medicaid waiver approved by the federal government. This will allow the state more flexibility in allocating money and resources to the most needy. (here)

The U.S. has a real shortage COVID-19 test kits. Private companies are ramping up manufacturing of these kits. A company in Utah – Co-Diagnostics - now supplies test kits to European countries. The company announced it has the capacity to supply up to 50,000 kits per day to the U.S. health care system. (here) The company needs FDA approval for the use of its kits in the U.S.

Finally, diverse manufacturers, such as Ford and General Electric, recently stated they could open shuttered plants and start making ventilators and other medical devices. (here) This is directly analogous to companies ramping up production of military equipment during WWII.

In spite of political posturing, it is terrific to see Americans pull together to get through the COVID-19 crisis.